At first blush, the emergence of a Heavy Metal Rock Band scene seems out of place in far flung Botswana deep in the heart of Southern Africa until one realises that Botswana’s Rock Band Culture has sprouted amongst a group of African People with a deep Spiritual connection to Africa and the Universe as a whole.
Rock sub-culture embraces individual expression and is also anti-establishment at its core.
These aspects can be adapted into any Cultural setting, and its therefore no surprise that Heavy Metal has found a home amongst Botswana Rock Band renegade Rockers or MRockaz.
Living in a Country heavily steeped in Conservative Christian and Traditional values, Botswana’s Rock Subculture appears to provide a means by which Tswana Rockers can articulate their individuality in a country where the pressure to conform is almost insurmountable.
The Rocker aesthetic is such a Culture shock it is mistakenly associated with Satanism and Devil Worship by the Conservative establishment.
Of course all this only serves to spur Botswana’s Rockers even further, and is a confirmation of the Social myopia they seek to transcend.
In my view its also not a coincidence that the annual Rock Festival is held right in the spiritual heartland of the San people in Botswana which is the Kalahari desert.
It is an affirmation that beyond the shocking aesthetics, Botswana’s Rock Bands ultimately connect with their deepest Ancient African Spirituality through the medium of Rock music.
Perhaps Rock Music is a vehicle to the same visceral experience of Spirituality as their Ancient Ancestors in a world where their Spirituality has been appropriated by institutionalised Religion.
Botswana’s Rock Bands represent the resistance and the expression of individual spirituality in a world where Spirituality has been monopolised.
Its perhaps ironic but not surprising that the Ancient independent Spirituality of the San that is being lost to modernity can be preserved in Rock subculture, which originated outside Africa.
However, it would seem that beyond the aesthetics, it is the Spirit of Rock that Botswana’s Rock Bands are most drawn, and that may be because in modern Botswana, it is the closest thing left to the unmonopolised Spirituality of their Ancestors.
In the meantime, although not yet mainstream, Black Heavy Metal continues to gain an audience across the African Continent, and whilst I’m not an expert on the scene, you can check out a list of some African Metal Bands making waves here.
In Botswana the Rock Scene also provides a platform for the equalisation of the Sexes.
Ultimately, the Botswana Rock Band Movement is proof that we live in a world of Cultural diffusion as Ancient Spiritual Traditions are now experienced through the medium of Rock Music which Botswana Rock Bands have made their own.